My children are now grown and have kids of their own, but I spent a lot of time during their early years teaching them to cook. As a working mom, I often had days that ended much later than teenagers could wait for dinner, so both of my sons begged to learn how to make their favorite dishes. Scott, my youngest, was particularly enamored of the jam-filled French crêpes I made for Sunday brunch. He'd stand elbow-to-elbow with me, swirling batter across the bottom of the small, hot pan and dumping the crêpes he deemed too thick or lumpy into the sink. Hundreds of crêpes later, he had mastered the dish, and I had wonderful memories of flipping crêpes, talking and connecting.
Shea Mackenzie-Mcgrail, Midlothian, VA
As I read through the August issue, all I could do was smile. I am a 42-year-old frustrated chef (masquerading as an investment banker by day), and the highlight of my weekends is cooking with my children, who are seven, nine and 12. While we cook nearly everything together—fresh pasta, pesto sauce, curry chicken and braised short ribs are among our favorites—it really doesn't matter so much what we're making, but how much fun we invariably have doing it. The sights, smells and tastes of the food we cook give us all a greater appreciation for what we eat and the effort it took to deliver it to our table. Amid arbitrating who gets to roll the pasta first and who gets to sauté the mirepoix, I can't help wondering whether—indeed hoping—I'm helping to create three chefs in the process.
James Flicker, Fairfield, CT
My husband and I started teaching our boys to cook when they hit their 10th birthdays. It was mainly a Friday-night effort and extended long into the night—stir-fry for one and mashed potatoes for the other. Now our sons are 23 and 27 and have cooked for their friends and roommates for years; it's how they socialize. Every holiday, they insist on doing something in the kitchen other than the rolls or the relish tray.
Maureen Adams, Merrimack, NH
My wife and I are both chefs, so our three-year-old son, Alex, has spent his fair share of time in the kitchen—not only visiting our restaurants, but also "working" in our kitchen at home. He loves to make cookies and cheese pizza,
measuring ingredients and kneading dough. He also likes to help with the prep work, adding ingredients to the soup pot or cracking eggs into a batter; whatever he helps out with, he proudly devours at the table. Cooking with Alex is a great opportunity not only for us to interact with him, but also to escape from our professional kitchen warfare and enjoy some genuinely innocent time cooking for a very appreciative audience.
Tim White, Charlottesville, VA
We have a six-year-old girl and an eight-year-old boy, and they both love to cook and help out in the kitchen. We do all the usual things—they whip eggs for omelets, stir batter, etc.—but their favorite thing to make is kebabs. I handle the meat or fish, and they help cut and skewer the vegetables. It's an easy exercise and a great way to expose them to different flavors, colors and textures. Beware of hot peppers, however, if you have a thumb-sucker.
Melissa Hennessy, Naperville, IL